VR Bubbles

A new way to shoot a film:

Use digital still cameras to take a full 360 degree panorama of a location, then stitch them together to form a VR “Bubble” which is used as a set for the action. Film action in green screen mode (not unusual by now). The movement of the camera filming the actors in the green space is coordinated with movement of the virtual camera within the bubble, so any action looks convincing. The technical term for bubbles is “spherically constructed location photography.”

Stefan Close Stelivio Cimg1664

Since the bubbles are created beforehand, the director (but not actors) can see the action taking place in the virtual location on the green space monitor as the action is being filmed. This creates a more realistic shooting atmosphere. Spherical lighting domes confer exact lighting for the green space for any location/lighting situation.

Drivers Club Before-1

Bubbles can be grafted and glued together to form extended locations.


There are several advantages of this way, one of them is that one can film in places where a movie crew would not be allowed to film, or manage to film. The movie Speed Race used 10,000 bubbles shot around the world — covering far more locations than a movie crew could have afforded to go.

There’s a pretty technical interview in VRMag with Dennis Martin who created the virtual locations for Speed Racer, and one with John Gaeta, special effects supervisor. He says:

We realized that we would need to create a department that had never existed inside a standard film production before, and we called this department “the world unit”: its job was to basically capture thousands of these bubbles around the world. So…we set this up.

Eventually I can see a market for location bubbles developing. You want the inside of the Sistine Chapel ready to shooting? How about a location at sunset atop Machu Picchu. Either one is yours for $1,000, or $100 even – cheaper than any visit could be. Someday there’ll be an istockbubbles.com.


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